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Calgary Catholic students won’t be writing Provincial Achievement Tests this year

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WATCH: Students within the Calgary Catholic School District won't be writing their provincial achievement tests this year. The board has cancelled the PATs. Jill Croteau has more – Oct 7, 2020

Annual standardized tests, designed to gauge how effectively students are learning, are being cancelled this year for Calgary Catholic students.

Schools districts across Alberta were given an option by Alberta Education to either proceed with the Provincial Achievement Tests or opt out altogether.

The Calgary Catholic School Board decided to scrap them.

Stacey Selley is on the Sunalta School parent council and said she feels students should be normalized as much as possible. She would have liked the PATs to continue.

“Kids are all wearing masks as it is, so why wouldn’t we do tests as normal with masks?” Selley said. “You can distance in big rooms in gyms and community halls, and depending on when it is, it can be outdoors.

“I would be curious to know, what other reason is it? Is it just safety, or are there other reasons behind it?”

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Calgary Catholic School District spokesperson, Sandra Borowski, said: “Calgary Catholic made the decision not to hold PATs in the best interest of student learning this year.”

Read more: ‘Not a standardized year’: Edmonton Public School Board decides to push province to cancel PAT, diploma exams

Parent of two boys, Danica Marshall, said she agrees with the board.

“I am applauding it. Having two kids with learning disabilities, they’re at a disadvantage anyways, and [I] don’t see the point of them anymore,” Marshall said.

The PATs are for Grades 6 and 9 only, and generally focus on English, Math, Science, Social Studies and French.  Ed Tse is a Calgary parent who agees they should be cancelled.

“Putting all kids into a single common space is a health concern, and there’s the mental health component too because of the added stress of performing for provincial results. It’s absolutely the right move,” Tse said.

Tse also thinks this is a chance to re-imagine those exams.

“I feel like it would be a missed opportunity to not look at what we test and have it a lot more focused on skills employers are looking for,” Tse said. “We have record unemployment of youths and unless we start doing something differently this isn’t going to get better.”

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The Calgary Board of Education hasn’t yet revealed its decision.

“The CBE is reviewing our options regarding the writing of PAT’s in Grades 6 and 9 and will communicate our decision next week,” said CBE Chief Superintendent, Chris Usih.